We may receive a commission when you use our links. Monkey Miles is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as CreditCards.com and CardRatings. This relationship may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. Monkey Miles is also a Senior Advisor to Bilt Rewards. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.
Rakuten, formerly Ebates, created a new program in 2019 whereby you can choose to earn American Express Membership Rewards in lieu of Cash Back. This was exclusively reserved for new Rakuten members up until 11/19. Since then, the program has evolved, and you’ll be able to change your account settings to Membership Rewards. The earn rate would be 1% cash back = 1 Membership Reward point. I’ve earned well over a million Amex points since the program began.
Personally, Rakuten is now my go-to portal since I value Membership Rewards over 1% meaning that for every 1% you see in cashback I apply a 2x multiple. One way to think about this mentally is if you see 10% Cash Back listed you’ll be earning 10x Membership Rewards. Spend $100 get 1000 Amex points which I value at roughly $20.
Now is a great time to join Rakuten – spend $30 get $30
For a limited time, New Members will get $43 cash back, or 3k Amex points, after they spend $30 via the portal. You can use our referral link here
Rakuten is a shopping portal and this is how shopping portals work:
When you login to your portal you’ll see something like this below…
When you click on any of those offers, you’ll be directed to the site you wish to buy from. If that were Finish Line, you’d arrive at the very same Finish Line that you’d see if you didn’t first go to Rakuten. The only thing the portal does is code your purchase as being routed via Rakuten, and as a result you earn the cashback advertised in the Rakuten portal.
This cashback, or Amex Points, is then paid to you every 3 months on the 15th.
Why should you select Amex Points instead of Cashback
The main reason I do it is because I love travel, and value Amex points at roughly 2 cents. This means instead of earning 8% cashback on every dollar I spend via the portal, I’d be earning 8x Amex Points. If I spend a $100 and earn 800 Amex Points, I’m earning points worth $16 or double the cashback rate.
Not everyone values points like I do, but I almost always redeem my points for a higher than 2 cent valuation. On the low side, I can redeem my points for flights in Amex Travel for 1.55 cents ( I have an Amex Biz Plat ) – so regardless, I feel comfortable I will extract value in excess of a penny.
I use Amex points to fly in Lufthansa First Class. This was an easy, and instantaneous, transfer of 70k Amex points to Aeroplan. Took all of 15 mins to execute and will ultimately be less than 50% of the points I earn from Rakuten this year.
Here’s a step by step guide to Earning Amex Points First go to My Account
Go to My Wallet
Make sure you have an Amex added that earns Membership Rewards. If you have a Delta, Hilton, Marriott, etc this won’t work.
Then account settings where you’ll find this:
If you don’t have a Rakuten account, you’ll need to select either PayPal or Big Fat Check to get going. You may need to sign out and back in for the Amex account to actually populate. If it doesn’t go here for Help which has a chat function to see why your Amex isn’t populating.
Then select Membership Rewards
And Voila…you’ll be earning Amex vs Cash Back
Once you start earning Membership Rewards, how quickly do they populate?
Long and short of it….you accumulate points over a 3 month period, and then 6 weeks after the close of that period, on the 15th of month, you’ll be credited. My period from January to March closed, and I was due to be credited May 15th, roughly 6 weeks later, and as you can see below….it hit same day. That is fantastic.
How to quickly earn the referral bonus – the Rakuten Gift Card portal
The Rakuten Gift Card shop is a great way to quickly get your points: buy a gift card for $40+ and get your bonus immediately.
Rakuten compared to other shopping portals
This is a big consideration. I have almost exclusively used Rakuten because I factor in the underlying value of Amex Points into the equation. However…if you’re looking for cashback I’d recommend that you check out cashbackmonitor which gives you the best rates across all of the shopping portals.
Rakuten has captured my business and will continue to do so as long as it offers Amex points as an earn option. Rarely do I see another portal offering double the cashback which is about the only circumstance I’d consider another portal based on value.
Hope this helps and as always, please ask any questions you may have.
Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
60k Points after $4k spend in 3 months
Transferrable Chase Ultimate Rewards
- 3x on dining
- including eligible delivery services for takeout
- 3x on select streaming services
- 3x on online grocery purchases
- (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs)
- 5x on all travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards – Chase Travel Portal
- 2x on all other travel
- $50 Annual Credit on hotel stays purchased via Ultimate Rewards/Chase Travel
- The begins immediately for new cardmembers and after your account anniversary for existing cardmembers
- 10% Anniversary Bonus
- Every year you keep the card, your total spend will yield a 10% points bonus. If you spend $10k in a year, you’ll get 1k bonus points
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® continues to redeem at 1.25c in the Chase Travel Portal and the slew of other benefits remain in tact including primary rental car insurance, purchase protections, etc.
- Points are transferrable to 13 Ultimate Rewards partners
- Redeem in the Chase Travel center for 1.25 cents per point
- No foreign transaction fees
- Suite of Travel and Purchase Coverage
- Primary rental car coverage is my favorite
We keep an up to date spreadsheet that lists the best ever offers: You can find that spreadsheet here.
Historically 80k is a very, very good offer and hit in both 2022 and 2023. In 2021, we saw the offer hit an all time high of 100k. Who knows if that will ever come back.
Cards that earn flexible points and should be used on the bulk of your purchases.
Cards that earn fixed points in the currency of the airline/hotel and can not be transferred at attractive rates. These cards yield benefits that make it worth keeping, but not necessarily worth putting a lot of your everyday spend on.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® is exceptional starter card and offers transferrable Ultimate Rewards, and pairs well with other Chase cards.
If you carry this card alongside Chase’s cashback cards like the Chase Freedom Flex℠and Chase Freedom Unlimited® or the business versions: Ink Business Cash® , Ink Business Unlimited® you can combine the points into Preferred account and transfer into hotel and airline partners
Annual fee is quite low at $95 a year + you get a 10% anniversary bonus on points + $50 hotel credit in Chase travel.